Tribune leader, 11 December 1992

Wednesday’s announcement that the Prince and Princess of Wales are to separate could have come as little surprise to anyone who has seen even the smallest snatch recently of the low-grade soap opera that is the British royal family. It had been obvious for years that the marriage was on the rocks.
Equally unsurprising were the syco­phantic expressions of concern for the royal ex-couple to be heard from all in the House of Commons but a handful of left-wing Labour MPs after John Major had made the announcement. However repel­lent they find the candyfloss and waste of the House of Windsor, politicians of all parties feel the need to pander to what they perceive as widespread royal ism among the voters. Rather than say what they think about the monarchy, they keep quiet.
They would be better off speaking out. The monarchy’s excesses in the past few years have combined with a general de­cline of deference to weaken popular sup­port for the institution.

The passenger on the Clapham omnibus knows that the breakdown of a long-term relationship is an unhappy experience for anyone. He or she also knows that it is far more easily bearable for someone with several homes and a massive income for life, paid out of public funds, for an unde­manding job with unlimited holidays.
There is a growing popular sense that the British monarchy’s time is up – that if we are to have a monarchy at all it should be on the Scandinavian model, with the monarch an ordinary citizen and the relatives of the monarch required to earn a living like the rest of the popula­tion.
For Tribune, that does not go far enough. The underlying problem with the monarchy is not that it has become a farce, although it has, but the hereditary principle on which the whole institution rests. In a democracy, a person should not have political power simply on ac­count of who his or her parents were. Yet, as all the solemn discussion of the consti­tutional implications of the royal separa­tion made clear, that is, in the end, what the monarchy is all about.
By all means tax the parasites and make them travel around London by bicycle, but the solution is a republic with an elected head of state.
Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.